Kurt Vile – Bottle It In

So, what’s new? The answer, unfortunately, is not very much.
Label: Matador
Released: 12th October 2018
Rating: ★★★

Beloved by stoners and guitar enthusiasts everywhere, Kurt Vile has been peddling his own brand of singer-songwriter-introspective storyteller for years now. So long in fact that new album ‘Bottle it in’ is his 7th solo album (not including last year’s collaborative album with Courtney Barnett ‘Lotta Sea Lice’). So, what’s new? The answer, unfortunately, is not very much.

Pretty much everyone knows what to expect from a Kurt Vile album at this point: rambling lyrics about everyday life coupled with impressive-yet-laidback guitar work. But the problem with ‘Bottle it In’ is that this is pretty much all you get, with no sense of growth or forward movement.

Fans of Vile will find plenty to enjoy, with lead single ‘Loading Zones’ and the sprawling 10 and a half minute long title track being particular highlights, but neither explores any new territory, and you’re left with the feeling that they could have cropped up on either of his last two albums without anyone batting an eyelid.

Other songs are more of a chore. Both ‘Bassackwards’ and ‘Check Baby’ start to grate before long, not helped by their runtime of 9 and 8 minutes, respectively. On ‘Bassackwards’, the weaker of the two, Vile sounds unfocused and almost bored, even seeming to forget he’s being recorded at points. Maybe that’s supposed to be part of the charm, but it just sounds unfinished.

Kurt Vile is an artist that operates clearly within one lane, and a violent swerve into nu-rave or dubstep wouldn’t exactly have worked very well. Having said that, there needs to be something new for an album to be interesting, and unfortunately, it’s this something that ‘Bottle It In’ is lacking. It’s still a good enough record, just don’t get too excited when you first hit play.

Jake Hawkes

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